Category Archives: Training and Tips

A New Christmas Puppy??

Is a  new puppy on your family’s wish list this Holiday Season?  I hope you have done your homework and researched this very important decision! Not that it’s a bad idea to ask Santa for a Christmas puppy…the kids are on vacation for a couple of weeks, and sometimes mom and dad are off work for several days.  You have some time to help your new family member adjust to their new surroundings, and remember, your new pup’s wish is that they will be taken care of and not forgotten in the confusion and chaos of the holidays!  It’s important to plan your life with your new puppy, our kids will grow up and leave the nest, but a puppy will be with us for her lifetime!

The excitement of Christmas morning can be extremely frightening to a young puppy.  Between 7 to 14 weeks of age, puppies are in a critical developemental period, and fears learned during this vulnerable time can be very difficult to overcome later in the dog’s life.  If you are considering a pure breed puppy, make sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder!  You should be able to visit the breeder’s facility, observe the puppies and parents, and observe the breeders’ interaction with his dogs and their puppies.  Good breeders will work with their pups during this critical “socialization” period to get them used to human handling, noises and other strange things in their new world.  Most breeders will allow new puppies to leave around 7 to 8 weeks of age, but the social development with litter mates and Mom continues through 14 weeks.  During this period pups learn bite inhibition and how to play nicely with other dogs.  So wait as long as you can before taking your new puppy home.  Don’t forget about your local humane shelters and rescue organizations when considering an older puppy or adult dog for your family!  Many shelters and rescue groups refuse to adopt out animals as surprise gifts because of the time, attention and care needed.

Avoid the convenience of on-line or “mail order” dogs!  Most reputable breeders do not sell puppies as Christmas gifts, therefore, many of the pups bought as holiday gifts are coming from pet stores or were ordered “on-line” – and were originally supplied by “puppy mills”!  In a rush to cash in on the holiday season by supplying puppies that have not spent enough time with their littermates and mama, and  often display genetic weaknesses due to mass-breeding and inbred health issues!

Consider the following points in your decisions:

  1. It’s hard to properly care for a new puppy during the holiday chaos and confusion.
  2. New puppies should not be over-handled.  Down time and lots of naps are needed in a quiet, relaxed environment.
  3. Dangers are everywhere!  During the holidays, there are choking hazards, poison hazards and breaking hazards – everywhere!
  4. People are going in and out.  Your pup may go out with them and not even be noticed!
  5. Hourly housetraining bathroom breaks in the midst of all other activities!


If you have made the decision to get a new puppy for the family, consider waiting until after the holidays when you can devote the time, attention, surpervision and care necessary.  Give the kids a stuffed animal pup with a note that says “We’re getting a puppy!”  Or, wrap up several separate items to open on Christmas morning such as, a collar, leash, puppy toys or a package of treats to build the excitement for the after-holiday arrival!

Last, but not least, I would be lax in my duties if I didn’t remind you to contact a professional dog trainer to get your new “best friend” off on the right PAW!!

Have a Wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season!

and…Enjoy Your Dog!




Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Throw Me a Bone Blog, Training and Tips

Leave a comment

Tags: , , , , ,

Exercise Your Dog on Two Levels!


Dogs require both physical and mental exercise to be balanced and stress-free.  The physical exercise part is easy, and hopefully a part of all our lives and our dogs – for the good of us all!  Walks, playing fetch, you and your dog taking a jog around the neighborhood, and swimming.  Agility courses also provide great exercise and bonding for human and canine alike!  Always check with your vet, before starting any strenuous exercise program with your dog, to make sure there are no physical limitations or health issues, and probably a good idea to also check with your human doctor if you plan to start any new exercise program!

Above all, whatever you choose to do with your dog, it should be FUN!  If on walks, for instance, your dog constantly pulls on his leash and takes YOU for a walk, or you’re afraid to walk where you may meet other dogs, people, squirrels, cats, rabbits or any other type of distraction, then you already know where I’m going with this and the importance of mental exercise!

Mental exercise through obedience training and a “Nothing in Life is Free” approach to life with your dog establishes balance and a stress-free existence for both human and dog.  By teaching your dog the basics, such as, Sit, Come, Down and Heel, and practicing these with your dog on a consistent and daily basis, you will challenge your dog to think what he can do for you in order to earn that walk, run, game of fetch or tug, or go for a swim.  Through a combination of both physical and mental “workouts”, you establish leadership in a stress-free and a confidence-building environment for both you and your best friend!

Enjoy Your Dog!!


Tags: , ,

N . I . L . I . F . (Nothing in Life is Free)

If you are dealing with a dominant dog or one that has exhibited aggressive behavior, then “Nothing in Life is Free” can help create a better relationship between you and your dog. These simple techniques work equally as well for several types of “dog personalities”.

The Dominant Dog – will challenge their owners for dominance.  Requiring this dog to work for what he wants is a non-confrontational way to establish leadership and control.

The Shy, Timid or Fearful Dog – will gain confidence by having a strong leader, and will understand that you are the protector and will keep him safe.

The “Pushy” Dog – though not showing signs of aggression or dominance, these dogs may demand your attention through pushy behavior.  Sneaking up on the furniture to be close to you or nudging your hand to be petted.


Teach your dog a few basic commands, such as “Sit”, “Down” and “Wait”.  Make sure your dog understands the commands and exhibits the correct behavior to the commands before beginning “nothing in life is free”.  Do not give commands to a dog if you are not in a position to reinforce them – 100%!  You will be teaching your dog that your words have no meaning!  In other words, do not say “Rover, Come”, unless you are ready to physically make your dog come.

Children should also practice “nothing in life is free” with the family dog.  Since children are small, and can get down on the dog’s level to play, they are sometimes viewed by the dog as playmates rather than superiors.

Rough play or tug-of-war games are not productive activities for a dominant dog!  If your dog wins, he thinks he is stronger than you, and that challenging you is fun!

Your dog should not be allowed to sleep on your bed, or on your children’s beds.  The leader always sleeps on higher ground!  Many dominance and aggression problems are actually created by people allowing their dogs to sleep on their beds.

When you are getting ready to go for a walk, have your dog sit to put on his leash.  When you feed your dog, have him lie down and hold the down until you fill his bowl, then release him to eat.  If you have taught your dog some fun trick commands, such as “Shake”, “Speak” or “Roll Over”, use those while you play a game of fetch.  Have your dog sit and shake before you throw the ball.  Have your dog work or perform a task for what he wants – Praise.  Praise, to a dog, can come in many forms; verbal, a stroke on the shoulder, throwing the ball, a bowl of food or a yummy treat.  Don’t reward your dog if he hasn’t earned the praise, but, by all means, when your dog does something right, don’t by shy – PRAISE!  A physical touch and a hearty “Good Dog” sometimes goes a lot further than just a handful of liver treats!

“Nothing in life is free” is a way of coexisting with our dogs that will help them better understand their place by accepting you and your family as leaders, and also serves to build trust and confidence for your dog and for YOU.

Enjoy Your Dog!!


Posted by on December 21, 2010 in Throw Me a Bone Blog, Training and Tips

Leave a comment

Tags: , , ,

Dog Training and Consistency

Consistency is a major part of successful dog training.  Consistency in training accomplishes three important points:

  1. YOU establish who is in control, and it should be YOU.
  2. Your dog will feel more comfortable and secure in knowing what’s expected.
  3. Your dog will know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

Dogs are creatures of habit and are very routine-oriented.  The more routine your training schedule is, the easier it becomes for your dog to learn and continue learning.  Try to work with your dog every day.  Walks are a great time to work on your training.  Distractions are everywhere.  People, other dogs, children playing, squirrels and rabbits all serve to create an ideal proving ground for your handler skills.

ALWAYS EXPECT THE CORRECT RESPONSE TO A COMMAND…After your dog learns the correct behavior to a command, and you give him that command, he should do it!  If you let the dog get away with ignoring a command once, he will use that new-found loophole from that time forward!  One easy rule to keep in mind for your dog is “You Have To”.

BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR USE OF VERBAL COMMANDS…Always use the same word for a certain command – every time.  One day don’t say “Come” and the next day say “Come Here”.

THE POWER OF PRAISE…Praised Behavior results in Repeated Behavior.  When your dog listens and responds to your command, reward him!  A touch, verbal praise (in a light, excited tone) or a release command all can serve as a reward to your dog.

REPETITION REINFORCES…Work with your dog everyday, even if it’s only for a short period of time.  It’s better to have ten minute sessions of training work daily than none at all.  This will help you become a better trainer, too!

BE PATIENT…A dog can’t be trained in a day!  Behavior is changed and molded over time.  Patience, Consistency, and Repetition will give you the behavior you want to achieve.  Don’t yell, don’t get frustrated and above all, don’t give up!


Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Throw Me a Bone Blog, Training and Tips

Leave a comment

Tags: , , , , ,

Three Phases of Dog Training

Phase 1: The teaching and control phase –

During phase one, the goal is to teach the desired behaviors you want through shaping, luring and engagement.  It’s also the time to teach the dog to pay attention and perform these commands around distractions.  This phase lasts between 1-3 weeks on average, however in certain situations it may take longer to gain the reliability needed before moving on to phase two.  Once your dog is capable of performing commands quickly and reliably around a variety of distractions with minimal problem solving required, then your dog and you are ready to move on to phase number two. During the initial conditioning process, reward your dog every time using food, praise or toy!

Phase 2: The reinforcement phase –

During phase number two, we begin to reduce our dependence on the dog training collar and introduce consistency via variable or intermittent reinforcement.   This phase will last between 2-6 weeks on average. Some situations will require you to stick with this phase for longer than average. Do Not Rush This Phase! Take your time and enjoy the process.  It’s also not uncommon as dogs mature and age to have to revert back into phase one training again for several days depending on how your dog’s performance and behavior is.  When your dog is capable of performing commands without the need for reinforcement for approximately 6 weeks, then your dog is very likely to be reliable without their training aid present.  We are ultimately looking to have your dog learn how to filter out distractions entirely.  When this is achieved, your dog is much less likely to act out in an unwanted manner because of distractions.

Phase 3: The maintenance phase –

The third and final phase of training a dog is the maintenance phase, and is ongoing for the life of the dog.  During this phase, you will likely be using your training collar or other dog training aid very little as your dog is capable of ignoring distraction.  The catch however is that they are still capable of distraction, they are not robots!  A smart trainer recognizes this and is ready to maintain their rules, commands and boundaries at anytime.  It is not uncommon to have a dog who senses the lack of maintenance and begins to revert back in their behavior.  The benefit of having done your dog training properly to begin with is that regression is easily minimized and dealt with by simply jumping back into training for a short time to remind the dog of the expectations.


Tags: , , , , ,

House Training your puppy

House training is one of the easiest things to teach a dog because dogs are clean by nature and don’t like to soil their den area. Always supervise your puppy when he/she is not in their den-kennel environment. The biggest reason for failure is the puppy is given more freedom than they are capable of handling, and mistakes are bound to happen.

The crate or kennel is the best tool to aid in the potty training process. If your puppy or dog is already secure in this “den” environment, it will definitely speed up the entire process. As the puppy is let out of the crate, take her out on a leash to the spot you will want her to eliminate. If she goes, lavish on the praise – “Good girl!”, “Good Potty”, and immediately return to the house. If she doesn’t go, return her to the crate and try again in 15 minutes or so. Continue with this cycle to develop a routine. Dogs are creatures of habit! Remember, a 9-week old puppy does not have a lot of bladder control. A good rule of thumb for me always has been no more than 1 hour of kennel, rest or play time for every month of age. In other words, 8-10 week old pups should have a potty break every hour, 10-12 weeks, every 2 hours, etc.

Use a cue word or phrase the first time you take your puppy out to eliminate, such as “hurry up” or “go potty”. Continue to repeat until he goes, then praise, praise, praise, all the way back to the house. Reward the action with a treat, play time or some lovin’!  Your puppy will learn to associate the cue words with the action. Later when traveling or out in public, it can be a cue word to get your dog to relieve himself in quick time when necessary.


Tags: , , ,